Publications included in this section.
The recent events related to the spread of the influenza virus A (H1N1) have drawn again the attention of science communication experts to old issues, including a couple of issues we deem particularly important: risk communication and the role of scientific journalists in the society of knowledge.
A recent article published in Science Communication addresses the training issue in issue in our discipline. Henk Mulder and his colleagues discuss the shared features that university curricula should or could have to favour the full admission of science communication into the academic circle. Having analysed analogies and differences in the curricula that a number of schools provide all over the world, the authors reached the conclusion that much remains to be done. Science communication seems far from having found shared fundamental references, lessons that cannot be missed in the practical-theoretical education of future professionals or researchers in this discipline. What should one study to become a good science communicator? And to make innovative research?
Human health has currently to face a growing series of global issues. From the spread of HIV/AIDS to a fresh outbreak of tuberculosis, increasingly drug-resistant, the world is witnessing a return, mostly unexpected, of infectious diseases. At the same time, the economic growth in many regions of the globe is generating a sort of “epidemics of wellbeing diseases”: obesity, diabetes, heart disease.
Martin W. Bauer is right, two evolutionary processes are under way. These are quite significant and, in some way, they converge into public science communication: a deep evolution of discourse is unfolding, along with an even deeper change of the public understanding of science.
Those studying the public understanding of science and risk perception have held it clear for long: the relation between information and judgment elaboration is not a linear one at all. Among the reasons behind it, on the one hand, data never are totally “bare” and culturally neutral; on the other hand, in formulating a judgment having some value, the analytic component intertwines – sometimes unpredictably – with the cultural history and the personal elaboration of anyone of us.
The major Lisbon goal is to give Europe back the primacy as a society of knowledge. `Giving back' is a more appropriate term than `giving', as Europe long held that primacy in the past, and virtually as a monopoliser from the 17th century throughout the 19th. Then, Europe shared it with North America for a long portion of the 20th century.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has bestowed the 2007 Nobel Peace Price equally upon the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore, former vice-President of the United States of America, with the same motivation: «for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change».
The summer now gone has reported two episodes we would like to bring to the attention of the JCOM readers. Two minor pieces of news, unlikely to be in the limelight over the summer, when the media understandably focus on gossips and crime news. Even the experts – especially outside the Italian territory – would probably dismiss these events as minor, wouldn’t it be for the people involved. But let’s see the facts.
The Scientific Communications Act of 2007 (HR 1453) was introduced by the US House of Representatives on 9th March. The National Science Foundation, an independent United States Government agency that supports fundamental research and education, has thus been allowed to spend ten million dollars for each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2012 to provide communications training to improve the ability of scientists to engage in public dialogue.
NASA has decided to cut by 50% the next two-year budget for the Astrobiology Institute (NAI), and for all of the studies on life in outer space. This reduction follows an announcement made by Dr Michael Griffin, the Administrator of the space agency of the United States Government when, in addressing the Mars Society last summer, he clearly stated that xenobiology studies are marginal to the mission of NASA.